Jenny Price is a writer, public humanities scholar, and Research Scholar at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, who has written often about environment, Los Angeles, and environmentalism, and about gun control, the Malibu beach wars, and public space.
As a scholar, she tries especially to understand how ideas and definitions of nature influence how we shape landscapes, build and rebuild cities, and formulate environmental and social policies to do so. As a storyteller, she translates that research and analysis into accessible narratives, whether in the form of essays, talks, classes, tours, or public art programs. In her past work, she has used the example of Los Angeles in particular to reenvision cities fundamentally as places of nature, where we use nature as resources and inhabit nature as landscapes and ecosystems—and where we need to do that as sustainably and as equitably as possible.
Author of"Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A." and Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America, she's written about environment and public space for GOOD, Sunset, Believer, Audubon, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. On the ground, she leads frequent tours of the concrete L.A. River—America’s most famous forgotten river—to emphasize its central importance to L.A.'s past and present, and to foster public support for the ambitious civic projects to revitalize the river and envision a more sustainable and equitable future for L.A.
In 2004, she co-founded the Los Angeles Urban Rangers art collective, which deploys the familiar park ranger persona—friendly, knowledgeable, a little gee-whiz—to explore the basic workings of the Rangers’ home megalopolis, and to give other people the tools to do the same in the places they inhabit. Their projects have included Malibu Public Beaches, which offered guided “safaris” to the beaches to teach people how to find and use a public beach in Malibu; and Downtown L.A., which offered such hikes as Corporate Peaks and Meadows to explore the past, present, and future of redevelopment in the city center, and which the Rangers developed initially for the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art and for a residency with the Engagement Party series at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
She has taught at UCLA, USC, and Antioch-Los Angeles; and was the fall 2011 Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies at Princeton University, where she taught the seminar The Art of Sustainability, which explored the particular powers of the arts to envision and enact sustainable places and practices.
Her current project, a cultural critique of contemporary environmentalism, takes two forms: a satiric advice column, Green Me Up, JJ; and a short new book, Stop Saving the Planet! The project focuses particularly on how popular environmentalist rhetorics—including the obsession with personal virtuous acts, and the shibboleth that we are all in this together--are implicated in a persistent class divide, which historically has haunted environmental action and policy, and which, the project argues, is currently the greatest barrier both to building broad popular support and to accomplishing ambitious environmental goals.
Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (Basic Books), 1999
Looking for Nature at the Mall: A Field Guide to The Nature Company, in Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, ed. William Cronon (W.W. Norton), 1995
Remaking American Environmentalism: On the Banks of the L.A. River, Environmental History, July 2008
Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A. Believer, 2 pts., April, May 2006 (Part 1 | Part 2)
More Victims? It’s a Dead Certainty, op-ed, Los Angeles Times, 20 September 2009
A Line in the Sand, op-ed, New York Times, 14 September 2005
Gun Lobby's Perfect Aim, Sunday Opinion, Los Angeles Times, 9 February 2003
Green Me Up, JJ—a not-quite green advice column--2009
How Carbon Trading Hurts the Poor, GOOD blog, March 2009
Your Malibu Beaches: An Owner’s Manual for the Other 20 Miles, in Know What LA guide, iPhone app, upcoming fall 2012